Do you know a good proctologist?

30 Second Networking Tip #66

Asking questions when you network is critical. But asking the wrong ones too soon can get you in hot water fast.

 

Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think… I really want to know!

When Networking Isn’t Really Networking

9263163_s

If you’re easily offended you may want to skip this post. I’m going to poke a finger at some of you and you might get mad.

But I swear I’m doing it out of love… truly.

I see a lot of people at meetings, events and conferences who are satisfied because they are “networking”. While they may, indeed, be checking the “showed up at an event and said hello to people I already know” off their list, they aren’t helping their business much at all.

You see, “networking” doesn’t help you much if you only talk to the same people over and over again. Now it’s true that I preach from the hilltops about networking being a multi-faceted activity… and that we all do it all the time. However, if you are going to an event with the purpose of networking and you are not talking to people you don’t know… or you are only chatting with the person you came with… you are not making much of the opportunity.

I’ve been doing some studying about networks (not the computer kind… that was my former life). And it turns out that there are two types of networks, open networks and closed networks.

Closed networks are self-contained. Everyone knows everyone else. The communication flows through the network pretty efficiently because of this but there is very little new input… that’s why it’s called a “closed” network. The down side to this is that it tends to stagnate. It is very comfortable, but there is a danger in that comfort.

An open network, on the other hand, is one where many of the people in it don’t actually know each other directly. That makes you sort of the “hub” of the network. You can funnel information from one group to another. And yes, that’s a harder network to manage since those people might not naturally show up at the same place together. But there are distinct advantages to building an open network. Actually, the most successful entrepreneurs tend to have open networks, such as Steve Jobs.

Jobs became a bridge between several groups of people in different areas of knowledge. It was natural for him since he had varied interests. Ultimately that helped him to incorporate that disparate knowledge into Apple’s products. It’s why the original Macintosh computer had different type faces. Jobs brought that in from his “artsy” network contacts where he learned about calligraphy. He introduced this info to his “engineer” network contacts who knew how to get the cool type faces into a computer.

While we may not all be Steve Jobs, or have his knack for connecting different technologies together, we can all intentionally build an open network. Having an open network keeps you more relevant to all your connections. If people you know are learning new things from you, and you always have something interesting to share from your other contacts, then people will want to interact with you. That’s half the battle in networking, having something to talk about. By opening up your network you’ll gather more info, make better conversation and be more valuable to everyone you come into contact with.

This is why you need to be talking to people you don’t know when you’re out networking, regardless of where you happen to be. Because you have to meet new people regularly, and engage with them, in order to build that open network. It’s what will keep your network growing and help you do more than just check “networking” off off your weekly to do list.

Please leave a comment and tell me what you think.

_________________________________________________

You can follow Eric @pitchforsuccess on Twitter or on Facebook at PitchforSuccess

To get information on sharing this article or having Eric speak to your group email questions@pitchforsuccess.com

Once upon a time…

30 Second Networking Tip #58

Telling stories is important when you are trying to connect with people… especially the first time you meet them. The good news is that we all have stories, but we need to make the one we tell situationally appropriate. 

Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think…

Always Be Prepared

Scouts-USMC-16307-PUBLICDOMAINWell it’s a new year! Some of you may have some new resolutions to get excited about. Maybe you’re not a fan of resolutions because you’re tired of making them and breaking them. I’m in the later camp myself.

I gave up on resolutions a few years ago in favor of a more holistic approach to getting where I want to be in life and business. Instead of resolutions, per se, I find that working to integrate skills and behaviors into my regular routine and process is much more effective. If I do that then I’m much more likely to stick with it. Either way hopefully you have set some goals for yourself to work towards in the coming months.

This year I decided to spend some time looking at who I need to meet. I’m focusing on my networking. I don’t have any specific goals about the number of people I want to meet, but I do have some goals about who I want to meet. Not only specifically who, as in specific persons, but generally who I need to connect with. I work well with business owners of small and mid-sized companies. This year I want to meet more of them.

Giving some thought to what types of people you want to connect with can help you in several ways. Here are a few:

1. It helps you evaluate your existing networking activities.
2. It helps you plan your future networking activities.
3. It helps you be on the lookout for specific people you want to meet.
4. It helps you be aware of what ‘types’ of people you want to connect with.

Once you now who you want to meet you can focus on how to engage them when you do meet them. Once you know who to look for you still have to initiate a conversation. So that is a good second ‘goal’ for the new year… get prepared to network no matter where you are.

We all network. We do it everywhere, whether we realize it or not. When you are at the office, at jobs sites, at social events and at business events you will meet people. Your job is to interact with those people you come into contact with. That’s where connections come from… those conversations you have every day. Better conversations means better potential connections. You never know when you will have the opportunity to meet someone on your list. So working on being ready for those conversations improves your chances of a productive interaction when you do.

You never know when you’ll meet that specific person you want to get introduced to. Or, more likely, you may meet someone who works in a company or industry that might make a good customer… or referral partner. If you’re not ready to share your story in an effective, interesting way… anywhere… you may miss out on a golden opportunity.

In order to make sure you can take advantage of those opportunities you really need to prepare yourself to naturally and comfortably discuss your business or job. When you are prepared to simply talk with people you can weave information about your company into a conversation. At that point you’re essentially ready for anything. That helps guarantee your success, regardless of the situation you find yourself in… and regardless of who you find yourself talking to.

It’s a very simple idea. Unfortunately simple doesn’t always mean easy. Preparing yourself means a lot more than just having an elevator speech memorized. There are many situations where whipping out the elevator pitch would be bad form… or inappropriate. Preparing yourself to network goes deeper than that.

Understanding when to talk and when to listen is critical. Knowing how to explain your company without losing people in industry jargon or buzzwords is vital. Being able to tell anyone about you while making the conversation about them is a valuable skill. Having the ability to introduce yourself in many different ways, that are all interesting, can help immensely. You will also have times when you need to exit a conversation gracefully, for any number of reasons.

All of these skills can be learned and integrated naturally into your networking conversations. When you master these and integrate them so they are seemless, you are truly ready for any conversation. It is possible, though it takes some effort. Achieving this level of comfort and skill can take your networking to the next level. That is what empowers you to talk to anyone about what you do, anywhere. It is what enables you to make the connections that are so vital to your business in the 21st century.

_________________________________________________

You can follow Eric @pitchforsuccess on Twitter or on Facebook at PitchforSuccess

To get information on sharing this article or having Eric speak to your group email questions@pitchforsuccess.com